Obama's only chance for liberal SCOTUS judge?

Republicans will slam Obama nominee regardless

By: Harry Nelson
April 16, 2010
ARTICLE SOURCE: Reflector-online.com

As you may have heard, U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, generally considered to be one of the Court's more liberal members, is retiring, allowing President Barack Obama to appoint a successor.

It's time for Obama to take a stand and stop bending over backwards to every Republican demand. He governs like he's working with a Republican Congress, when in fact the Democratic Party controls 59 percent of the seats in both houses and stop letting the Republican minority push him around.

Despite a huge majority in Congress, he compromised on the public option. He compromised on a watered-down bill on climate change. Pointless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq still rage with no end in sight, and rather than address our nation's addiction to oil, he merely authorized more drilling. Last time he had the chance to appoint someone to the Supreme Court, he comprised with a reasonable moderate. (I'll give her a break, though, since she saved baseball.)

But that's not enough for Republicans, the Party of No. They fight tooth-and-nail to oppose him on everything, so blinded by their hate of the man that they refuse to see his compromising, centrist ways and instead refer to him as a "communist" or "socialist" - do they even know what these words mean?

When Republicans controlled the Senate earlier this decade, they wanted to use the "nuclear option" to prevent Democrats from filibustering some of President George W. Bush's loonier judicial nominees.

But when America got tired of their garbage and threw them out in 2006, Republicans, now in the minority, nearly doubled the record for most attempted filibusters in the 110th Congress, which ran from 2007-08. Sure enough, they're on pace to match that number in the 111th Congress.

Why should I be surprised? This is the same party that runs on "strong family values" but has committed the majority of sex scandals in Congress over the last decade.

They beat their chests so loudly over the plague of judicial activism, but now they're clamoring for activist judges to overturn the new health care law.

They claim to focus only on the Constitution, but they trampled all over it just to take a political shot at President Bill Clinton by impeaching him over a personal matter.

And that's it: It doesn't matter who Obama chooses to replace Stevens. Republicans are going to smear his choice no matter what, so Obama needs to put a strong liberal ideologue, someone to be a giant on the court in the vein of William Brennan or Thurgood Marshall.

Remember, Stevens is a liberal. Obama putting a liberal on the Supreme Court isn't going to change the balance. But putting a strong liberal voice on the Court can serve as a counterweight to Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, far right-wingers with no liberal analogue.

Finally, the dark clouds of midterm elections are looming. Although I'm sure this November won't be nearly as bad as the dyed-in-the-wool Republicans are foretelling, the Democrats will likely lose at least a few seats this year, giving the Party of No even more leverage to uniformly work against Obama's progress.

We may not get another chance to put a strong liberal on the Supreme Court. That's why Obama must seize this chance now.

Harry Nelson is the managing editor of The Reflector. He can be contacted at opinion@reflector.msstate.edu.

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